I've mentioned that I'm a relatively big fan of the Warriors series. From The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest offshoots all the way back to the original Dynasty Warriors series itself. Koei Tecmo, always seeking a way to expand its plethora of Warriors titles has finally released Warriors All-Stars. This title sees many of Koei Tecmo's most famous series and characters are drawn together into a singular world. From here, they are expected to help restore life to the land and prevent the takeover of a sealed away demon named Yomi.
Similar to the Warriors Orochi series that pulled characters from both Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors, All-Stars pulls its rosters from more than one place. In this case, from 13 games from Koei Tecmo's backlog. These include major titles like Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive and even more obscure titles such as Samurai Cats (I haven't played this one). Many of the series are not similar to the Warriors styled hack and slash genre and instead are a mixture of action-adventure to RPG. However, the characters themselves are easily inserted into All-Stars and follow combat mechanics similar to the series. Each does have their own unique set of attack styles and specials that align with background games and origins, but the base gameplay is still a series of pressing a button for basic attacks and a different one for strong attacks while rolling around or blocking enemies.
All-Stars does introduce some new gameplay elements while being incredibly reminiscent of other recent KT games like Spirit of Sanada. One of the newer features I found interesting included Rush Mode. With a Rush Star item in hand, players can click R3 to being Rush Mode after which hundreds of enemies continuously swarm you. You're initially given 20 seconds to kill as many as possible, but reaching certain thresholds will grant extra time. All the while your teammates will continue to cheer you on (in Japanese) urging you to commit acts of genocide against the furry populace of the world. Another is the Bravery meter. Your bravery is always in question when a battle begins, starting you out at a low 0. Killing waves of enemies, taking down low-ranking enemy officers, or taking over enemy bases will help build up your bravery meter, or even completing small missing objectives on the map will speed up the process. A low bravery level will severely impact your ability to take on enemies with higher bravery levels, acting like the hyper mode found in the previous games. However, I never found it a major issue, both in building my bravery or in taking on enemies who outclassed my bravery level.
Another “new” element in the inclusion of your team. Similar to the Warriors Orochi series, you’re able to pick multiple warriors to accompany you in battle. While Orochi had 3 and allowed you to switch between them, All-Stars lets you pick four additional members but prevents you from switching. To compensate, you’re able to call upon them in battle by holding R1 and pushing a direction on the D-Pad. They will come in with a quick flourish, perform some sort of special attack, and then disappear back behind you again to slowly pick off enemies. In selecting your teammates and having them perform attacks, it helps to build rapport with them. Stronger rapport with your friends grants extra bonuses like items for use in strengthening your characters, better attacks mid-fight, or really odd scenes in the bathhouse.
The game rehashes several locations/areas from other Warriors titles, as is usual with these combination games. Most of the game looks great and plays well, but I’m not sure I fully understand some of the crazier elements to the game. Koei Tecmo has been putting many extras into their games in recent years, but some of the ones in this feel too tacked on, too forced. The core gameplay is still fun, and the goofy story is attractive, plus the ability to pick your battles across a large map, but I don’t need a billion little things to worry about. One of the attractions of Warriors is the ability to just go hack and slash hundreds of enemies. Now that I’ve got an option of which character I want from whichever franchise, I’d prefer to not have all of the excess baggage with it. That being said, the game is still solid and fun experience for those who enjoy Warriors.Note: Warriors All-Stars was reviewed on PlayStation 4. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.